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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Good morning! Elizabeth Cooney here, filling in for Shraddha today and tomorrow. Non-spoiler alert: This is a GoT-free zone.

What do the latest state abortion laws mean?

There’s a larger question looming over abortion rights, access to providers, and women’s health, but right now abortion remains legal. That’s because the eight state laws restricting abortion passed this year — based on fetal heartbeat or weeks of pregnancy — have yet to take effect. Only Alabama’s law, signed Wednesday, makes abortion a felony, even in cases of rape or incest, except when the pregnant woman's health is in jeopardy. It, too, will likely face legal challenges.

And as soon as Monday the U.S. Supreme Court could announce whether to hear challenges to an earlier Indiana law that regulates disposal of fetal remains and requires an ultrasound and a waiting period; the court is expected to weigh in later this year on Louisiana’s law mandating hospital admitting privileges for providers.

DIY sunscreen doesn’t stand up to SPF scrutiny

Maybe you don’t like slathering your skin with chemicals. Maybe you worry about damaging coral reefs when you swim. As appealing as lavender, shea butter, coconut oil, and carrot oil sound in homemade lotions endorsed on Pinterest as sun protection, they don’t stand up to scrutiny. In a new study in Health Communication, researchers combed through 189 of the most popular sunscreen recipes on Pinterest and found that despite claims of up to 50 SPF, the highest level they could confirm — from other research on the favorite coconut oil — ranged from 1 to 7 SPF. “It is concerning that the ingredients recommended in the home-made sunscreens offer minimal scientifically proven broad spectrum protection from UV radiation, yet seem to be widely shared and promoted as safe alternatives,” they write.

Dana-Farber’s patent win could mean billions

The stakes were high in a patent dispute, and not just because a leading cancer center was challenging a Nobel Prize winner who claimed to be the sole inventor of a cancer immunotherapy after a collaboration had soured. When Dana-Farber Cancer Institute prevailed in its pursuit to add Gordon Freeman’s name to Tasuku Honjo’s on the patent behind the blockbuster cancer drug Opdivo, the Boston research hub also opened the door to potential payments from any company developing a new drug in this class. Freeman, Honjo, and Clive Wood, their colleague at the Genetics Institute, discovered how to release the brakes that cancer slams on a patient’s immune system. Opdivo pulled in first-quarter sales of $1.8 billion this year, behind Merck’s Keytruda, which totaled $2.3 billion for the same period. I have more here.

Inside STAT: What happened to PatientsLikeMe?

James Heywood with his brother Stephen (THE BOSTON GLOBE)

After his brother Stephen was diagnosed with ALS in 1998, Jamie Heywood started the world’s first nonprofit biotechnology company, ALS TDI, with his family. His second company, PatientsLikeMe, was another outgrowth of watching his brother’s struggle. The website was not just a new place for patients to communicate, but also a source of data for scientific studies. But the venture, supported by deals with industry, has been forced by a shadowy U.S. regulatory body to unwind an investment by China-based iCarbonX. And Heywood is outraged. “If we can’t collaborate to improve human health with people who have done so credibly and well, well, I don’t know what we’re going to do as a world,” he said at a recent forum. STAT’s Matthew Herper has more here.

Pediatricians remind parents that car seats are only for the car

A small percentage of infant deaths — approximately 3% — occur while the child is sleeping in a car seat or stroller. In general, little is known about why such young children die in any setting, but a new study has found that over 10 years, of the 219 sleep-related infant deaths that occurred in car seats, only 10% happened while the car seat was being used as directed.

Parents and caregivers can safely allow children to sleep in their car seats while they are traveling, pediatricians say, but they strongly recommend moving children out of car seats into a crib or bassinet as soon as possible afterward.

It’s genetic: Some people really are dog people

A new study in Nature’s Scientific Reports teases out data from the Swedish Twin Registry to untangle the ties between people and dogs — and how they evolved. Growing up with pets turns out to be less important over a lifetime than your genetic makeup. Having a dog in childhood contributed only 10% to the likelihood of owning one past early adulthood, but being an identical twin played a much bigger role: 57% for women and 51% for men. The researchers muse over whether certain genes helped humans domesticate dogs 15,000 years ago and wonder whether genetics should be considered today when studying the health positives of dog ownership. About those Swedish dogs’ heredity: the most common breed was “mixed breed,” followed by golden retriever and German shepherd.

What to read around the web today

  • Patient hurt by do-it-yourself artificial pancreas prompts FDA warning. Bloomberg
  • In cities where it once reigned, heroin is disappearing. New York Times
  • You have questions on CRISPR. We have answers. STAT Plus
  • A contrarian view of digital health. Quillette
  • The good that can come when we stop seeing cancer as a battle to win or lose. Los Angeles Times

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Have a news tip or comment?

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Monday, May 20, 2019


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